State trade groups and federal lawmakers tout new shipping carrier regulations

Federal lawmakers and leaders of Arkansas industry organizations have touted a new law that should benefit U.S. exporters and ease supply chain issues. The US Senate approved the law in March and the House of Representatives approved it on June 13.

According to a press release Thursday, June 16, U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, and U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, praised the bipartisan, bicameral Shipping Reform Act they championed and President Joe Biden signed the law into law.

The act updates federal regulations for the global shipping industry and gives the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) greater regulatory authority to regulate harmful carrier practices, the statement said.

“Too many families and small businesses are feeling the pressure of empty shelves and wallets,” Womack said. “I’m proud to help drive real action to fight inflation and supply chain disruptions. With today’s signing, we support a rapid flow of Arkansas goods and producers, especially our hard-working farmers and ranchers. Increasing market access and economic opportunity for natural-state and U.S.-made products is key to reducing backlogs and easing the pricing burden on consumers.

According to the release, the law will require ocean carriers to certify that late fees, or detention and demurrage charges, comply with federal regulations or face penalties. This will also shift the burden of proof regarding charges from the invoiced party to the shipping carrier. And, it will prohibit shipping carriers from unreasonably denying shipping opportunities for U.S. exports, as determined by the FMC.

“The Ocean Shipping Reform Act is a positive step for American agriculture,” said Rich Hillman, president of the Arkansas Farm Bureau. “We export a large part of our crops and products and rely heavily on maritime transport to deliver these goods to market. We commend the Arkansas Congressional delegation for doing this for Arkansas farm families who produce the best food and fiber in the world.

Shannon Newton, president of the Arkansas Trucking Association, also praised federal lawmakers in Arkansas for their support of the bill and looks forward to “improving freight flows through ports so we can keep going.” to deliver the goods where they are most needed”. Kevin McGilton, vice president of government affairs for Riceland Foods, said the law “will give the FMC more tools to ensure that our exports get to our customers efficiently at fair rates.”

Boozman explained the benefits of the supply chain law.

“Arkansas exporters need reliable, dependable transportation to get their goods to markets around the world,” Boozman said. “Steady export capacity is especially vital for the state’s agricultural industry. As we continue to face soaring inflation, signing this legislation is an essential step to help alleviate the supply chain crisis that is exacerbating high prices.

The act was presented by representatives Dusty Johnson, RS.D., John Garamendi, D-California, and the Senses. John Thune, RS.D., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

Organizations supporting the bill included the American Association of Port Authorities, the National Industrial Transportation League, the National Retail Federation, the Agricultural Transportation Coalition and the American Trucking Associations.

Other aspects of the law include the requirement for ocean carriers to report annually to the FMC on the total tonnage of imports and exports and 20-foot equivalent units (loaded/empty) per vessel that calls on the States. States and for the FMC to initiate investigations itself. shipping carrier’s business practices and take enforcement action.

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